Music » Music Lead

Boys in the Attic

Rock stars with sex appeal are a relic of bygone days.

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Janie's got the gun, but Steve's got the sex appeal.
  • Janie's got the gun, but Steve's got the sex appeal.

Here's an example of a morbidly unattractive man (and the only shorthair on this list) who knew the formula of a great gimmick: primitive drumbeat + incessant handclaps + gold lamé jumpsuit = Insta-Legend. He's also been a dirty old man since the day he was born, but unlike stars as brazen as, say Eminem, who right off the bat was all "I wanna cut my wife's throat in front of babies and give nuns roofies and then put everyone in a killing machine and kill them in front of more babies," Glitter saved his dark side for a future release. Resurfacing years after his "hey!"-day as a convicted kiddie-porn enthusiast may not make him a good rock star, but the fact that he kept that shit under wraps for as long as possible was a nice move on his part. None of his songs even made reference to little girls or anything. He put the emphasis on his horrendous fashion sense and monosyllabic choruses instead. Good Glitter.

There is something to be said for modern pop divas and boy-band heartthrobs. Sure, the music may be contrived, but at least they don't fuck with the formula: Entertain, sing catchy songs, and look adorable. There will always be a charm to that, and there will always be screaming prepubes who recognize that charm instantly.

But once you grow out of that pop-obsessed preteen stage, who's hot? The next natural step is rock band frontmen. MTV has offered a bevy of new rock gods for the last 20 years, but there's something about most of them that's decidedly unsexy . . . and very uncool. Belting out droning nü-metal choruses and possessing about as much intrigue and danger as the Behind the Music episode about Weird Al Yankovic, these new rock dudes have a lot to learn. One need only sit through an hour of new videos to come to this depressing realization: Rock singers are no longer bitchin' in any way.

Long gone are so many staples of rock and roll attitude. Come on; what was really so wrong with longhairs who mugged girlishly for the camera, not giving a rat's ass who called them a fag? And what was the prob with mistaking ladies at Kmart for your favorite rock idol? Who are the young, blossoming horndogs of the world supposed to have crushes on these days? Hot-rockin' dudes are sorely missed, thanks especially to the proliferation of three basic, dorky-by-definition categories of rock star:

1. Earnest church-rockers/soulful post-grunge guys who do the whole Pearl Jam-inspired, angsty Bea Arthur howl. Eddie Vedder pioneered the vocal style, but was eons beyond these guys coolwise. Where did this new breed of Bible-toters and grunge revivalists go wrong? (Uh, maybe with the Bibles and the grunge!) Classic flowing tresses are about all they have going for them. See: Creed, Nickelback.

2. Wholesome fiddle guys. Dave Matthews Band, of course. Although no actual fiddle is even needed to achieve the geeky, completely safe fiddle-rock vibe. It's kinda Ren Faire, kinda daytime-concert-in-the-grass, and definitely not to be listened to during a makeout sesh or bar fight, or even while thinking about either of those things. These guys are so safe, they might as well be drinking Coors Cutter through a twisty straw right on their album covers, so people would know exactly what they were getting.

3. The Coif That Will Never Die: the short, spiky, yellow bleach job, almost always sported on a ruddy-faced Fred Durst-lookin' fool screaming c/rap-metal. Noooo!!!!

So, in honor of Aerosmith's stop in town this week, here, for all you local Heshers aspiring to someday have panties launched at your faces as if from cannons, are five men who really knew how to be frontmen.

Steven Tyler
Attention world: The age-old debate pitting Mick Jagger against Steven Tyler is finally being settled right here. Mick Jagger was, by all means, sex appeal personified, but in a high-maintenance sort of way. Tyler, on the other hand, had a mouth as foul as an East Cleveland back alley and cartoonish facial features that didn't come together as conventionally prettily as Mick Jagger's. He didn't care, and neither did the ladies. Why? Because those lips, while not proportioned with the rest of the face, could probably seal the entire region from a woman's upper belly to lower back. Living it up when he's going down, indeed.

Freddie Mercury
He had what it took: an overbite that meant business, delicious androgyny, and the ability to make the sluttiest claims without ever looking like a pussy-bragging jock. "I'll fuck anything that moves," the Merc once said to an interviewer who questioned his sexuality, and the thought of it made everyone all the hornier. Fred Durst could say that, but he wouldn't mean just "anything"; he'd mean any chicks but not fat chicks, and he'd be flinging cold cuts at some porn star's bare ass and wearing a Phat Farm beanie as he said it. Not cool.

David Lee Roth
Okay, DLR was a total pompous asshole. But his biggest charms were his post-Halen delusions about his own celebrity and his complete lack of boundaries. Sashaying around in a white top hat and tails, making love to the camera in every way imaginable as everyone pointed and laughed -- that kind of confidence is so fucking hot, especially when it's unmerited. Yeah, the guys in Blink-182 do goofy things in their videos, too, but it's very deliberate; stuff like donning mustaches and mullets is really passé, because only people with delayed senses of humor still think it's hilarious. Roth, on the other hand, sang "Just a Gigolo" while sandwiched by titty chicks, getting so wrapped up in the moment that he forgot he was on camera and raised his eyebrows in shock at every chord change. He really thought he was a gigolo, and, hopefully, was genuinely surprised at the chord changes. Absolutely no shame.

Gary Glitter
Here’s an example of a morbidly unattractive man (and the only shorthair on this list) who knew the formula of a great gimmick: primitive drumbeat + incessant handclaps + gold lamé jumpsuit = Insta-Legend. He’s also been a dirty old man since the day he was born, but unlike stars as brazen as, say Eminem, who right off the bat was all “I wanna cut my wife’s throat in front of babies and give nuns roofies and then put everyone in a killing machine and kill them in front of more babies,” Glitter saved his dark side for a future release. Resurfacing years after his “hey!”-day as a convicted kiddie-porn enthusiast may not make him a good rock star, but the fact that he kept that shit under wraps for as long as possible was a nice move on his part. None of his songs even made reference to little girls or anything. He put the emphasis on his horrendous fashion sense and monosyllabic choruses instead. Good Glitter.

Billy Squier
Most know him for the thinly veiled jerk-off anthem "The Stroke," but when Squier wailed that he "never could see/How women could do these things to meeeeee" in his late-'70s power-pop band Piper, he won the hearts of jilted girls and guys everywhere, proving that pretty boys with killer pipes have broken hearts, too. There hasn't been much output from him lately, but for the time being, I'll clutch my Don't Say No record to my bosom and wait impatiently for December. Year after year, his "Christmas Is a Time to Say I Love You" easily beats out anything by the Waitresses, David Bowie, or Jesus Christ himself as Most Wholeheartedly Rocking Holiday Song Ever.

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